Establishment of law and property was the first stage

Info icon This preview shows pages 5–6. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
establishment of law and property was the first stage, the institution of monarchy the second, and the conversion of legitimate to arbitrary power the last. The first stage authorizes the state of rich and poor; the second, the state of powerful and weak; and the last, the relationship of master and slave. The same vices that make institutions necessary make their abuse inevitable. Laws contain men without changing them; a country where no men broke the law would not need laws. Political distinctions bring about civil distinctions, and psychological changes. Leaders could not oppress people who really wanted to be free. You cannot subjugate someone whose only desire is to be free. Even without government intervention, inequality of prestige is inevitable amongst men. Thus the importance of wealth in a society is a measure of its corruption. The universal desire for wealth and prestige leads to catastrophe; division is sown
Image of page 5

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
beneath the surface of society. From this disorder arises despotism, which devours all and tramples laws and peoples underfoot. Despotism is the last stage of inequality, which returns us to where we began. All private individuals are equal because they are all nothing. This new state of nature is very different to the original. Although much is missing here, there is a great distance between the state of nature and the state of society. Savage and civil man differ so much that what makes one happy makes the other miserable. Now we have honor without virtue, reason without wisdom, and pleasure without happiness. This is clearly not man's natural state. The growth of inequality is due to the development of the human mind, and becomes legitimate through the establishment of property and human laws. Modern, moral inequality is therefore contrary to natural right when it is not directly proportional to physical inequality. General Summary The aim of the Discourse is to examine the foundations of inequality among men, and to determine whether this inequality is authorized by natural law. Rousseau attempts to demonstrate that modern moral inequality, which is created by an agreement between men, is unnatural and unrelated to the true nature of man. To examine natural law, Rousseau argues, it is necessary to consider human nature and to chart how that nature has evolved over the centuries to produce modern man and modern society. To do this, he begins in the imaginary state of nature, a condition before society and the development of reason. Discarding the Biblical account of human creation and development, Rousseau attempts to conjecture, or guess, what man in this state would be like. He examines man's physical and mental characteristics, and finds him to be an animal like any other, motivated by two key principles: pity and self-preservation. The only real attribute that separates him from the animals is his perfectibility, a quality that is vitally important in the process Rousseau goes on to describe. Man in the state of nature has few needs, no idea of good and evil, and little contact with other humans.
Image of page 6
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern